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James Tillerson, 1939-2010

Former Theodore Roosevelt football coach James Tillerson died last night after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease. He was 70.

After serving as an assistant for two seasons, Tillerson took over the Rough Riders in 1969. During a 12-year span from 1973 to '84, Tillerson guided Roosevelt to seven appearances in the Turkey Bowl, winning three times (1974, ’76, ’79). Only Willie Stewart, Bob Headen and Craig Jefferies have coached on more Thanksgivings than Tillerson.

Tillerson also led Roosevelt to a 41-7 victory over St. John’s in the last City Title football game in 1974. He stepped down after the 1993 season.

In 2008, after Roosevelt’s field was renovated, the school dedicated it in Tillerson’s name. Last November, more than 30 former All-Met Roosevelt players attended a luncheon in Tillerson’s honor.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

By Alan Goldenbach  |  January 28, 2010; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  DCIAA , Football , Theodore Roosevelt  
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So sorry to hear this. We were friends in the '70's. Jim Tillerson was a excellent coach but I don't think I have ever seen anyone who was more committed to helping his players in every possible way on and off the field. I remember that he found an industrial strength laudry machine __I think it was at Roosevelt__ and washed all of his players uniforms himself. He helped get scholarships for players at colleges they never dreamed they'd be able to attend. He was always a dignified gentleman, someone who had this deep understanding of how tough the lives of many of his players were, who became their leader without ever being a screaming coach. His concern for them was just so obvious, sincere and practically 24/7 that they responded to it. He was serious, smart, organized but with enough humor, too. It's been a long, long time since I talked with him, but his memory is still vivid. Just wanted to pay my respects, with emphasis on the "respect" part.

Posted by: russ_21401 | January 28, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

As a former player on the 81-82 team, I have to express my gratitude for Coach Till. He was and will always be considered by me and all of his players as a man amongst men. A man who taught us what hard work and togetherness meant, a man who taught us how to be young men with character. I remember the sprints and cutaways, with all the dust and rocks, and those hot uniforms that we wore with pride. I will never forget the lessons this great man taught me and I will always honor his memory. He made us proud to be Rough Riders....his legacy is one that will never die, and will go from generation to generation. Rest in peace now Coach, you got Gods team now....Love ya!

Posted by: Hvmercy | January 28, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Alright ROUGH RIDERS, Let's mount up and ride one last time. This ride will be in memory of the "Leader of Men", a "Father Figure To Many". A brother to all.


Posted by: Defensiveside | January 28, 2010 6:37 PM | Report abuse

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